There’s no question that, for most of us, receiving criticism is not easy. Even when it’s well-intentioned constructive feedback, listening to someone point out an error that you made or a flaw that you have can be very tough to take.
While learning how to accept criticism graciously, and even thankfully, may not be at the top of your list right now, learning how to deal with negative feedback could make a big difference in your ability to advance rapidly in your career.
Research in Expert Performance psychology reveals that top performers in every field learn to view criticism differently than the rest of us.
They see it as valuable feedback and as an opportunity to improve.
Rather than trying to avoid criticism, expert performers welcome it. They seek out coaches and advisers who can give them constructive, sometimes even painful feedback. They then use this feedback as a guide for steady improvement.
To become a top performer, you’ll need to open yourself up to feedback from those around you. Here are some steps you can take to ease the sting of criticism and begin to make it work for you, instead of against you.
- Hit the Pause Button – It’s important to maintain your composure and not lash back or respond defensively to criticism. Take a breath. Don’t do or say anything. This brief pause not only helps you compose yourself and prepare to listen to what the other person has to say, it demonstrates your poise and self-confidence. Maintaining your composure when criticized shows that you’re in control.
- Turn On Your Brain and Turn Off Your Emotions – It’s important to disconnect your automatic emotional response to criticism. Otherwise you won’t be able to objectively consider the value of the information. Focus on the words and facts, not on the feelings they generate within you. Regardless how undiplomatic the other person is in delivering the feedback, tell yourself that it is designed to help you improve, not to tear you down.
- Listen Carefully – Listen intently to what the other person is saying. If you’re busy formulating your rebuttal, you may miss some valuable information that can help you avoid errors in the future or improve your overall performance.
- Acknowledge Your Error – Acknowledging a mistake is not the same as acknowledging that you are an inferior person/a failure. If you believe the criticism is accurate, take full responsibility. Don’t blame something or someone else and don’t make excuses. If appropriate, offer a diplomatic apology: “I’m sorry that my actions led to that result. It certainly was not my intention.” Again, if appropriate, ask for suggestions on how you can improve your performance the next time.
- Take Corrective Action – After you’ve heard the other person out completely, and listened to any suggestions for improvement, state/communicate your eagerness to improve in the future. If appropriate, describe any actions you will take at his time to counterbalance your previous error.
- Acknowledge The Other Person’s Motive – Thank the other person for the feedback and make sure to state how valuable you consider it. This demonstrates your ability to use criticism as a way to improve – an essential quality of a leader. In addition, let the other person know that you are open to receiving his or her feedback in the future.
While any criticism can be discouraging, it’s important to keep in mind that negative feedback can contribute significantly to faster growth and higher performance. Even when you don’t care for the style in which criticism is presented, be thankful that the other person is willing to give you feedback, and along with it, an opportunity to improve.
Dedicated to all my friends who find themselves unable to handle criticism in Social field.